He’s been with Wolves in the English Premier League and won silverware with Hearts – but Christophe Berra says there’s still plenty to learn at 36.
The former Wolves centre-back has joined his former Hearts youth manager John McGlynn at Raith Rovers on a two-year deal, following his exit from Tynecastle. It was an emotional departure after 229 appearances, but it comes off the back of a turbulent 18 months.
Berra was sent on loan to Dundee by then-Hearts manager Daniel Stendel in January 2020, the Tynecastle club relegated to the Scottish Championship after the 2019/20 Premiership was cut short, with games to play. He then featured sporadically as Robbie Neilson’s side won the Championship and returned to Scotland’s top-flight last term.
Kirkcaldy is calling Berra ahead of the 2021/22 cinch Championship and the centre-back tells NTOF of the last 18 months: “I’ve been trying to watch as much of the Euros as I can between training! I’ve had a good summer since the end of last season. I have had about five or six weeks off, which is the longest I’ve had since I came back up to Scotland.
“When you were down in England you got around that amount of time off. I have had a good time spending it with the family. I have a four-month-old baby girl and it’s been good to have that time to bond with her. You sometimes don’t get that time and space in football.
“If I do step into coaching – and hopefully management – now that I am in the later stages of my career, that time might become even less. But on the other side, I am looking to getting back out there. John McGlynn was my first manager at Hearts U18s and gave me a good grounding, not just on the pitch, but off the pitch as well.
“You had to do jobs back in the day as a youngster and he made sure you did them! That’s been taken into my personal life, even wee silly things like tidying about the house.
“With the pandemic hitting and the fiasco of us getting relegated with games to play, starting the next term in the Championship, it was difficult. As players, it’s your job to train and do what you enjoy. We won the league and did it comfortably. There were bumps in the road but Hearts are back in the Premiership, where they belong.”
Some questioned whether at 36, Berra would call time on his career after his Hearts exit. He’d enjoyed 41 caps for Scotland and shone south of the border with Ipswich Town and Wolves, winning a Scottish Cup winners’ medal with Hearts during his first Tynecastle spell. But a move to Raith is no last chapter for Berra.
He said: “I am 36-and-a-half now and some might say it’s the last dance. I don’t know, it might be. When I started out as a professional, if you had told me I was still playing at 36, I’d have taken your arm off. But when you get to this age, you want more. I have always stayed as fit as I can.
“So if I can avoid injury and I am still performing, I don’t see why I can’t continue after this contract. I just need to take games as they come. I just need to do well individually and hope the team does well collectively. It’s always good not to look too far ahead in football.
“I want to play well and prolong my career, helping the team too. Raith did really well last year and they know how to play different ways. I know the manager and I want to learn. There’s no age to stop learning at. I want to learn as a player and on the coaching side of things.”
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